Body Shop founder Anita Roddick dies

LONDON, Sept 10, 2007 (AFP) - Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop cosmetics chain, died on Monday, September 10th evening after suffering a major brain haemorrhage, her family said.


Anita Roddick - Photo : Eric Cabanis/AFP

Roddick, 64, was with her husband and two daughters at a hospital in Chichester, southern England, when she died at 6:30 pm (1730 GMT).

She had been admitted to the hospital on Sunday Septeember 9th evening, having collapsed after complaining of a sudden headache.

"Mrs Roddick was admitted to the hospital's Intensive Care Unit and her husband Gordon and two daughters, Sam and Justine, were with her when she died," a statement from the family said.

Roddick announced in February that she was suffering from the viral disease hepatitis C, contracted through a blood transfusion during the birth of her youngest daughter, Sam, in 1971. She also suffered from cirrhosis of the liver, a common long-term effect of the disease.

At the time, she said hepatitis C had to be given more prominence as a "public health challenge," adding: "What I can say is that having hep C means that I live with a sharp sense of my own mortality, which in many ways makes life more vivid and immediate."

"It makes me even more determined to just get on with things."

She set up the first Body Shop -- selling its own brand of simple, environmentally friendly cosmetics, skincare and related products -- in the southern English town of Brighton in 1976.

It now has over 2,000 stores in more than 50 countries, and became part of the French giant l'Oreal Group in July last year, but retains its brand identity and is based in Britain and is run independently within l'Oreal.

Roddick was made a Dame of the British Empire as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2003.

Tributes poured in for her soon after her death, with environmental group Greenpeace's Executive Director John Sauven describing her as an "incredible woman" who would be "sorely missed".

"She was an amazing inspiration to those around her, not just in environmental and human rights issues, which were two of her passions," Sauven said.

"When you look at it today, and how every company claims to be green, she was living this decades ago.

"She was a true pioneer."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown chimed in, saying he was "deeply saddened" to hear of Roddick's death, saying in a statement: "She will be remembered not only as a great campaigner but also as a great entrepreneur.

"As one of this country's most successful businesswomen she was an inspiration to women throughout the country striving to set up and grow their own companies.

Human rights group Amnesty International, AIDS charity Body & Soul, and the anti-death penalty organisation Reprieve also paid tribute to her life, providing a measure of the various causes Roddick was well-known for supporting.

By Prashant Rao

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